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DUANE SCHERER - An Artist and his Whimsical Clocks

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DUANE SCHERER
An Artist and His Whimsical Clocks

By Marla Santos

We first met Duane back in Detroit in the eighties, when he and his identical twin brother David were performing live in their eclectic band, Glassings David. Duane on vocals and guitar, and David on vocals and violin, the twins’ unique style of singing and songwriting caught the ear of STRIPLV’s own sound engineer/producer/songwriter, Santodonato. Working with late producer and friend, Frank Fisher, Santodonato recorded the group and released the album, Love and Pain, on Santonato’s record label, Overture Records. It received favorable response on college radio, charting on CMJ. The band toured extensively as an opener for ‘80s hit acts. To help bring in money to pay the bills, Duane started his own decorative painting company, painting faux finishes like marble, to complex murals looking like a Picasso or replicating Mona Lisa. While experimenting with different media, he started creating his wonderfully whimsical clocks that incorporate sunbursts, stars, hearts, birdhouses and butterflies. It is this touch of nature and the colorful shapes that make each one an interesting, unique piece of art. 

“We had a new music production deal for Glassings David. I was writing the best songs of my entire life and my guitar playing was the best I’d ever played. We had all these meetings and one night I just turned to David and said: “I can’t do this anymore. I’m sick of being poor. I’m quitting the band.” I quit and went back to college. After spending a year and a half to finish up my college degrees at Wayne State University, my decorative painting company just exploded.”  

“College really didn’t help me at all. The only thing that helped me was my tenacity, work ethic and discipline. It helped me psychologically get out of the addiction of music, because I was completely compulsive-obsessive about it. I would absolutely not recommend it at all, unless you wanted to be an art teacher. If you want to be an artist’s artist, then save your money and you can learn on your own. I hate to put a wet blanket out there, but there’s something that can be said about the artist of the street: someone who makes his bones by existing on his art, his wit, his will, rather than having a teaching degree and launching your art from that point of view. I prefer the artist of the street. David is one of the most dynamic artists and most productive artists, with his range and the uniqueness of his things… He didn’t go to college. College can’t teach you or give you creativity. You either have it or you don’t, and if you’re savvy enough, you can apply that type of talent into figuring out your place in the world. I remember taking my first painting class and I thought: “I’m not going to pay this joker thousands of dollars. I can paint on my own. Give me something that I can’t do on my own.” I did a double major on printmaking, because of the solutions, and sculpting where I was pouring bronze, aluminum and iron. Obviously, a poor starving artist doesn’t have access to a foundry, and Wayne State has a great foundry.”  

“David and I came from a disadvantaged family with divorced parents, and we were left on our own a lot. I remember being at a party when I was in 11th grade and looking at the artwork and lyrics on Bowie’s “Diamond Dogs” album, and I remember going: “Oh, my God!” and how it made me feel. I knew there was a bunch of people out there kind of like me that had this cultural or emotional void, and for that moment, a light went off. I thought to myself: ‘Wouldn’t that be awesome to be that kind of lighthouse, guiding people through the world of imagination? And this artist was hitting it.’ The visual, the lyrics, the music was so different—the production and everything. So I started writing songs, and when I was eighteen I started taking piano and guitar lessons. Then you guys met me a few years after that. After the ‘Love and Pain’ album, my creativity started really gaining momentum, I started getting into a mature phase of creativity. The music wasn’t getting me enough of a venue for the explosion that was happening in my mind and in my life. I needed another outlet, and that’s when I started painting. As the music part started fading, the visual art aspect started taking over.”  

“I think that I am gifted with this thing where, if you want hot water, you just go to the faucet. If I want to create, I just go to work. For me, the idea of being inspired has been: I looked for beauty filled with the joy of life, flowers and children’s laughter—all these same things that are out there for everyone to take notice. I’ve been practicing that for so long, that it’s just so much a part of me. So, the idea that any isolated incident would inspire me, it just doesn’t do that anymore. It’s one of those things where it just flows out of me.”

“I’ve created tens of thousands of paintings, drawings and sculptures. I’ve done all sorts of experimentation on so many different levels and so many different materials. I’ve done a lot of wild experimentation with things that sometimes don’t go over, but the hearts, stars, flowers, and nature, that gravitates and resonates with people, so I’ve learned how to manipulate it in my own unique voice in a way that really appeals to people. People come up to me all the time at shows saying, ‘My parents, or so and so, bought me a clock last year and it makes me so happy.’ That’s really nice having all that. My little ‘Sweet Petite’ line is a really strong seller. I’ve had my clocks in galleries in all 50 states, Canada, Japan and Europe. A businessman imported them for shows in Frankfort and Paris.”

“I started doing wholesale shows in New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago and Las Vegas. I would bring in my product line, and galleries and stores come from all over and place orders. I’d go back to my studio, replicate them, box them up and ship them. Most of the time when I would do shows in the Midwest and the East coast, I would load up my van with my product, do the shows, and then I would basically work out of my studio filling the orders. Even though I have a great work ethic and I get the job done, it’s not like going to a 9-to-5 job and really locked into that type of thing. My studio now is in my home in Lathrup Village in Detroit. I don’t have any employees right now. It’s the first time, since the band days, that I don’t have a single employee. From 1998 until 2014, I had a studio in downtown Royal Oak.”  

“My advice for budding artists would be to really keep an open mind. Have a very disciplined work ethic, and stay out of debt. Experiment a lot, and if it’s meant to be in your life, you’ll figure it out. But unless it’s a driving passion for you…don’t do it.”  

“My favorite thing to do is hang out with my kids. They give me a peace of mind and well being that is truly a blessing. I love traveling, going for walks, fishing, taking out my bike, and going out to eat great food. I’ve been a devoted father and I never wanted to get a divorce, but Susan moved out three years ago. We’ve remained friends and have an excellent family dynamic. Now I want to be excited about things again. I think I might try my hand at designing toys. Recently I was at the International Toy Show in New York. I think there’s a lot of opportunity and I think it might be very exciting to be involved in a different business dynamic.”

“If I were to win the lottery, I would take a deep breath and probably grab the kids, grab the ex, get a group of people together and do a 2-week trip to Italy. I’ve always wanted to go to Venice. I’d fly into Florence, spend a couple days there, then go to Venice, and then take a ferry over to Croatia, where there are all those islands in the Adriatic. There are all these old castles and Roman ruins. I would take a gaggle of people that I love and do that.”  

“When it comes to identical twins, David and I are the yin and the yang.”

Duane’s clocks are available for purchase at: 
DuaneScherer.com • Amazon.com • ArtCraftOnline.com • SweetheartGallery.com

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